Making the case for Syracuse Harbor Downs

In-city racetrack for greatest economic development.
Post-Standard Letter (published Jun 21, 2011).

June 21, 2011

To the Editor:

I have no clear opinion on the merits of horse racing or the wagering associated with it. But if a racetrack is to be built, I recommend it be built in Syracuse for several reasons:

  1. A racetrack in an isolated suburban location will do little to stimulate existing businesses, much less spur new economic development.
  2. A racetrack in an urban area will draw more people and will surely stimulate new development in its vicinity.
  3. The infield could serve multiple events.
  4. It would provide an additional key attraction to the local convention business.

I suggest building a racetrack in the area south of the Inner Harbor enclosed by the canal, Kirkpatrick and Spencer streets and Hiawatha Boulevard, which includes roughly 130 acres. Welcome to Syracuse Harbor Downs!

Admittedly, it will take more time and effort to consolidate this area for development. But consider the benefits:

  1. Carousel Center mall would receive a huge stimulus (Bob Congel will be for it).
  2. A developed Inner Harbor will surely attract development on the North Side (preferably mixed-use commercial/residential).
  3. A racetrack as a well-conceived economic stimulus project may convince the county Legislature to reconsider allowing wagering.

The current proposal is to build a harness-racing track. However, I strongly urge pursuing a Class-A racetrack. Class-A racing is far more prestigious and would attract a wealthier clientele that would stimulate the local economy much more. There is a rather large equine industry in the Syracuse region. A Class-A racetrack could be the key attraction whose visibility could help promote the whole industry. It would greatly increase Syracuse's media presence and marketability, giving Syracuse the reputation of a more dynamic, attractive and growing city worth visiting or moving to.

Carlo Moneti
Syracuse, NY